IBAC Insights (newsletter)
Issue 35: Message from IBAC's Acting Commissioner
Welcome to the March edition of IBAC Insights and my first edition as Acting IBAC Commissioner.
It has been a privilege to step into the shoes of our previous Commissioner, Robert Redlich AM, KC. Commissioner Redlich was an advocate for integrity in the public sector and Victoria Police, and for the role prevention and education plays in achieving this.
Since my appointment as Acting Commissioner in December 2022, IBAC has been busy finalising significant investigations and publishing two key reports. I would like to acknowledge the work of our dedicated teams here at IBAC and the courage of the community for reporting corruption and misconduct.
I also recognise that preventing and exposing corruption is a shared responsibility and IBAC could not achieve much of its work without the support of the public sector and Victoria Police.
Overseeing Victoria Police
IBAC is Victoria's independent police oversight body and our remit is broad. Police misconduct includes any conduct that would bring Victoria Police into disrepute or cause the public to lose confidence in it.
Complaints about Victoria Police misconduct make up over 60 per cent of IBAC's overall complaints. In 2022, we received 1904 complaints (a 14 per cent increase from 2021) and 234 notifications from Victoria Police.
IBAC can review and audit investigations into police misconduct carried out by Victoria Police to help ensure police appropriately discharge their responsibility and identify policies and practices that need to be improved. Last year IBAC completed 241 reviews of Victoria Police internal investigations and made 62 recommendations to Victoria Police.
IBAC also actively contributes to and participates in police education programs. In 2022 this program of work included 45 education and training sessions to Victoria Police officers and employees, engaging with various levels of police including recruits, detectives and senior leadership on the importance of integrity and preventing misconduct and corruption.
To learn more about all aspects of our police oversight role, please read a recently released infographic detailing our key activities throughout 2022.
Engagement with Government
In February, I spoke to Victoria's new MPs at Parliament House as part of their orientation program. This was an opportunity to explain IBAC's role, highlight what MPs need to be aware of in the context of corrupt conduct, and emphasise the ethical standards they are expected to uphold. I also spoke about the recommendations from our recent Operation Watts and Donations and lobbying special reports, which emphasised the need for MPs to be across their relevant codes of conduct and donations and lobbying legislation.
Last month, IBAC tabled a special report in parliament highlighting systemic corruption vulnerabilities associated with directors of public entity boards engaging in lobbying activities, as well as conflicts of interest involving lobbyists on public entity boards, and a lack of transparency in lobbying activities. The investigation scrutinised the actions of lobbyist and Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) board member Theo Theophanous.
IBAC recommended that the Victorian Public Sector Commission revise the Code of Conduct for Directors of Victorian Public Entities 2016 to expressly prohibit public entity board directors from engaging in lobbying activities on any matter that relates to the functions of the public entity. It also recommends that the Department of Premier and Cabinet amend the Appointment and Remuneration Guidelines to ensure lobbyists are ineligible for appointment to a public entity board that has functions which relate to any matter on which the lobbyist has represented the interests of third parties.
To learn more, I encourage you to listen to the podcast recorded with Deputy Commissioner David Wolf who goes into detail about the issues and recommendations stemming from the Operation Clara special report.
Assessing the risks with Victoria’s major infrastructure projects
In February, IBAC released a research report, Corruption risks associated with major transport infrastructure projects, highlighting corruption risks that can impact major Victorian infrastructure projects during procurement and construction.
IBAC's research found the key corruption risks impacting major transport infrastructure projects were fraud, collusion, bribery during procurement and by contractors and subcontractors; fraud, such as contractor and subcontractor providing false invoicing and false claims; and favouritism and fraudulent recruitment practices, including payroll fraud.
Acting IBAC Commissioner